On the eve of the 2nd round of the 2018 World Cup in Albstadt, Germany, Cannondale have unveiled the new weapon for the Cannondale Factory Racing squad. On a course that sees just about every rider reaching for a hardtail given the amount of climbing, Cannondale have made sure their team will have the sharpest knife in the fight. Ok, that might work better if it was a new Scalpel, but they've already done that.

The Cannondale F-Si already breathed life into the hardtail when it was launched. Cannondale slackened the head angle and paired it with a Lefty with 55mm offset, and then sent the whole back triangle askew to allow better chain lines and a stiffer rear end. Basically, they made a hardtail that would be super competitive for the changing World Cup courses. That was in 2015.

Long live XCO.

The new F-Si is designed to be the fastest hardtail out there, both on climbs and descents. The frame has dropped 80g and is now 900g, and the Ai offset brings the chainstay length to 427mm. At this weight, and with a short back end the bike should climb like a rocket, and change lines with ease. Cannondale have also allowed for 2.35" tyre clearance, which will pair nicely with modern tyres and the move to greater internal rim widths.

The head angle is now at 69 degrees, and a medium has a reach of 420mm. Sizes S-XL are 29ers, and the XS is 27.5".

Cannondale claim to have tuned the ride even more, so we expect that means more vertical compliance when in the saddle and extra stiffness when out of it. There's a bit more going on with this though. Firstly, the Ai back end helps. The offset drivetrain means Cannondale Ai bikes need rear wheels with different dish. But that's a dish that is more equal, so the rear wheel is stiffer and stronger. 

Cannondale have also got a new drop out. It's reminiscent of 10mm through-axles that fitted in your regular QR frame. But only on the non-drive side. So imagine your wheel (or hub) and axle are together in the pits. You slot the wheel in and then drive the 148x12 axle into the drive side which is threaded as usual. Different - yes. Faster? Marginally so. But in a World Cup or other high stakes race this is a difference that counts.

The frame also uses flat mounts for disc brakes. Canyon have done the same with their new XC bike that has been spotted, and with access to bolts from underneath it's easier for set up and probably lighter. Who knows - there could be a new MTB brake mount standard coming soon. Well it's not that new, it's closer like the original!

Like many road bikes, Cannondale have hidden the seat clamp. Cannondale claim it leaves more seat post (which is 27.2mm) to flex for greater ride comfot. Good luck feeling this difference - but it does look good.